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AONB designation

Natural England (NE), Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)¬†are responsible for formally designating AONBs and advising on policies for their protection. NE, NRW and NIEA act as national “watchdogs” over AONBs, to ensure that they are successfully conserved and enhanced.

Designation seeks to protect and enhance natural beauty whilst recognising the needs of the local community and economy. This includes the protection of flora, fauna and geological as well as landscape features. The conservation of archaeological, architectural and vernacular features in the landscape is also important.

Responsibility of care is assumed by local authorities and the rural community. AONB status provides a context for low key, long-term action, which relies upon partnership with local people.

As a result of this local basis, the planning and management approach in each individual AONB can vary considerably. Overall responsibility of care lies with the relevant local authorities. However, most AONBs fall within more than one local authority area (city, district and/or county). To encourage consistent policies and positive coordination, AONBs have undertaken the following actions

  • The formation of joint advisory committees, joint committees or conservation boards. These include representatives of not only the different local authorities, but also of landowners, farmers, residents and conservation and informal recreation interests.
  • The appointment of AONB officers to coordinate local management operation.
  • The preparation of statutory Management Plans.

For information about AONB designation process in England please contact [email protected]

For more information about AONB designation process in Wales please contact [email protected]

For more information about AONB designation process in Northern Ireland please contact [email protected]

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Further information about AONBs
The AONB story
AONB legal framework
AONB family objectives